News / USA

Americans in Their 20's Struggle to Get Health Insurance

Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance
Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance
Deborah Block

Democrats in the US Congress are racing to pass health care reform legislation.  Currently, people in their 20s are the largest group in the United States without health insurance. With skyrocketing health care costs, those with low incomes often cannot afford insurance.  Under the legislation, some 30 million uninsured will be able to buy insurance, and some will get government subsidies for it. And that could make health care more affordable.

Michele Gomez is a 23-year-old single mother with no health insurance.  She has a cold and came for medication to the Free Clinic in Arlington, Virginia outside Washington.  Gomez also is having a blood test because she has a heart condition.  

She says because of it, she can only work part-time and she doesn't make enough money to pay for health insurance.

"I need medicine, and sometimes I get heart pains and I have to think about it twice before I go to the hospital because I don't have insurance," said Michele Gomez. "I normally get a big bill and I don't have a way to pay for it."

Nearly half of young adults work part-time and so they are less likely to be offered health insurance at their jobs.  

The U.S. government estimates that 30 percent of young adults are without health coverage, compared with 17 percent of older adults.

Gomez says she is in favor of health insurance reform.  But she says if she is required to pay for even a small part of her insurance, she can't do it.

"I think they should have done this a long time ago," she said. "It's ridiculous how you can't get insurance, especially if you are a U.S. citizen.  I think that should be one of the major priorities is to get insurance for people, especially if they have a low income."

Health officials say it's important to insure young adults even if they have few health problems.  Nancy Pallesen, head of the Arlington Free Clinic, says their issues can become chronic.

"It's very important for these people to have health care, regular health care, and to have preventative kinds of health care because in the future this will save them a lot of anguish," said Nancy Pallesen.

Currently, most insurance plans allow parents to claim their children as dependents until they are 22-years-old. Under the new legislation, young adults will be able to remain on their families' policies until the age of 26.

Ronald Perry works in a grocery store and says health insurance is too expensive for him.   He thinks it should be optional.

"Everybody can make their own decisions and if you choose to have health care you shouldn't be forced to do it at 26 or 30," said Ronald Perry. "If you want it at 45 or 50 you should be able to get it then."

Young adults are more likely to work in small businesses that don't offer health care plans.

Isidro Duran is one of them.  He came to the U.S. from Honduras 10 years ago and works in a small restaurant in Washington.  He says he would like affordable health insurance.

"I am nervous and I am very concerned about it because you never know when you will need it," said Isidro Duran.

Kimlinn Pham, from Vietnam, is a manicurist in a hair salon in Virginia. She hopes health care reform will allow her to buy reasonably priced health insurance.  Pham says even when she's sick she avoids going to the doctor.

"The doctor and hospital are so expensive," said Kimlinn Pham. "I know that they treat you very well.  But later on when you get the bill, you are the one to suffer from the bill.  The doctor won't suffer from that."

Even with new legislation,  the changes in health insurance won't begin for several years.  By that time, some people in their 20s could already be burdened with medical debt and chronic illness.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid